Thursday, September 3, 2015

OF ARTICULATED VEHICLES ON NIGERIAN ROADS

A friend of mine visited from Spain a year ago, and was surprised to find heavy duty trucks on the roads of Lagos during the day. She told me that such could never happen in Spain as all movements of heavy duty vehicles is restricted during the day, and at night when they are allowed to move, there are speeds to be maintained, reflector panels, adequate lighting and the likes, with checks both on the drivers' side, as well as on the side of the traffic police to ensure that accidents related to heavy duty vehicles are reduced to the barest minimum.

If memory serves me right, I think the immediate past governor of Lagos (Babatunde Raji Fashola) suggested something of the likes, even making some bridges in Lagos out of bounds to heavy duty vehicles, including fuel tankers and articulated vehicles. Unfortunately, as with everything in Nigeria, "Time erodes the enforcement" of certain laws meant to protect the citizenry, hence yesterday a container-laden truck pulled back while in motion atop the bridge at Ojuelegba, then broke the barriers to fall onto a car and an SUV (while a third was slightly damaged), below. Though official outlets claim only one person died, eyewitnesses claim there were three victims from that incident, which is the latest of several accidents involving heavy duty vehicles including fuel tankers and articulated vehicles in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria. Indeed, this latest incident recorded the least number of dead compared to the many others before it this year alone (and that is no good news).

 THE ARTICULATED VEHICLE THAT FELL OFF THE OJUELEGBA BRIDGE
                   

It is interesting how an accident like this which is a pointer to poor maintenance of trucks by drivers, as well as failure to adhere to rules and regulations, such as latching containers properly to trucks, can still be an issue in Lagos, where one couldn't do up to a hundred metres without encountering officials of the FEDERAL ROAD SAFETY COMMISION (FRSC), VEHICLE INSPECTION OFFICE (VIO), LAGOS STATE TRANSPORT MANAGEMENT AGENCY (LASTMA), the Police (and the likes) quizzing and giving ordinary motorists a hard time for minor infringements while looking away (with "greased palms) as these "hazard constituting" truck drivers waltz by.

Just as I was about posting this tonight, I happened upon the nine o'clock News on the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA opening with the tragic news of an accident that happened along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway earlier this morning involving a petrol tanker and a  luxury bus, that led to the death of twenty five people and I just went limp. The case for working hard to stem the tide of these incessant accidents, especially during what is called in this clime "THE -EMBER MONTHS", has never become more pertinent if the lives of the commuting Nigerian is going to continue to matter, and worth more than it currently does. We cannot afford to be desensitized from the victims of these accidents, regardless of their frequency with which these accidents occur.

The agencies tasked with ensuring safety of Nigerian roads must wake up to their responsibility and for once approach their calling methodically if we are to begin to hear less of these accidents, especially those that are due to human error and negligence on the part of all concerned. So sad now!

'kovich

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